Advice from Service Professionals

Being self-employed can be one of the most lucrative and satisfying careers available, but it requires due diligence on the part of the independent professional. Whether working in information technology, entertainment or business consulting, it’s increasingly important not only to have an employment contract in place, but also completely understand all of the fine print within the document before signing it.

Often, when independent contractors don’t have an employment agreement in place they can be vulnerable to the whims of the employer..

If you are considering going into the voice-over business, for example, think of it as going into business for yourself. Not only do you have to equip yourself with knowledge in acting and recording, it is also valuable to have some knowledge in marketing, promotions, bookkeeping and drafting your own contracts.

Beware of misleading language and know your rights

Contracts are often laden with industry jargon and it can be confusing if you don’t read the fine print.

Take, for instance, the following example: union actors cannot, under any circumstances, accept a buy-out, which is a one-time fee “forever” payment. Also, depending on the state that the actor lives in and the type of the project completed, he may be entitled to be paid a commission. For instance, with residuals, which are payments made to performers for reruns of work, he may only be eligible for residuals if the original employment is at scale, and this only applies to first and second reruns. If original employment, however, is over scale, by at least 10 percent, he should receive residuals on every rerun.

This example above uses industry terminology in explaining an actor’s compensation. For most, the use of this jargon would be confusing, especially for those new to the industry.

It is in your best interest to arm yourself with an understanding of contracts and preview a few employment contract samples from reputable businesses. Not only will you strengthen your negotiating abilities but also reduce the risk of being taken advantage of.

The same is true for contractors and consultants working in the IT field. Employment contract forms for IT will protect you, your business and your intellectual property from being stolen. The agreements should specify the beginning and ending dates of the employment period, the amount of the salary and the scope of work to protect you from attempted damages.

Whether you work in the entertainment industry or in IT, it is important that you outline in your agreement a schedule for compensation for your work. It’s best to have a contract that requires you to receive your payment within a certain number of days after you complete a job or project. If you aren’t paid on time, you may be entitled to late payment penalties. Employment agreement drafting software will typically cover this issue as well.

Bring strength to the bargaining table by coming prepared with a contract and a full understanding of the industry and the contract or agreement to be negotiated. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with these agreements is to view employment contract samples. Not only will you help safeguard yourself from being taken advantage of, you may be able to negotiate more lucrative terms.